The New Faces Of Missions
Message from the President
“After almost 2000 years, the task of missions remains the same: establishing indigenous local churches whose purpose is to develop mature disciples of Christ all over the world. Though God has not called us to a different task, missions history demonstrates that He continually calls different people from different parts of the world to the forefront of that task.
For over 35 years, God has privileged IPM to partner with some of the new faces that the Lord of the Harvest is now using to reach new places. Partnering with these new faces is both biblical in theory and effective in practice. As God uses and blesses this method of missions work, it is my prayer that He will also use and bless you as one who prayerfully and financially supports it.”
A paradigm shift is taking place in missions. During the 20th century, most believers assumed that the best person to evangelize Africans was a missionary from North America. They thought that the best person to reach Asians or Latinos for Christ was a missionary from North America. Many believers are changing their minds!
The leaders of IPM, and many churches that support IPM, are convinced that the best person to evangelize any people group is someone from that people group or someone from a nearby culture. Greece was evangelized in the first century by Greeks, not by foreign missionaries (see I Thessalonians Chapter 1). IPM focuses on Africans reaching Africans, Asians reaching Asians, Arabs reaching Arabs, and Latinos reaching Latinos.
While we may mourn the end of a great missionary era, an era in which we were the leaders in world evangelization, Christians in North America must realize that the best is yet to come. Each paradigm shift that has taken place in modern missions history has resulted in more missionaries and more effective church planting. The new missionaries from Asia, Africa, and Latin America will plant many times the number of churches we North Americans planted during the last century, and they will do it better and faster. Best of all, they will do it in places where Americans cannot go. An IPM missionary from India, has planted six churches in the space of six years in a closed country, a country where American church planters cannot serve.
Many of the missionaries needed to evangelize large parts of the world are already on the field. They already understand the culture. They already speak the language. (Many of them speak three or four languages used in their region of the world.) But they need to be trained and sent into the field. IPM, through its Education Department, partners with more than 20 Bible colleges, seminaries, and institutes to train the future missionary force on their own soil in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America.
Missionaries from the United States are needed to teach at the Bible college level. IPM has openings for both short-term teachers and for career Bible college professors on the mission field. You can have a part in training the new faces of missions, those who will take the gospel to the far corners of the globe.
Not only is God raising up missionaries from countries that North Americans have always considered “the mission field”, but God is also raising up new mission boards in other parts of the world. IPM partners with indigenous missions including Amazon Baptist Mission (Peru), AWBM (Lebanon), Solid Rock Baptist Missions (Ghana), Fundamental Baptist Mission (Cote D’Ivoire-Ivory Coast), Antioch Ministry (Chile), ROHM (Myanmar), Logos Baptist Mission (Bolivia), and others.
Many of the people needed to preach the gospel around the world are available—and they are available now! If we fail to take advantage of the human resources currently available in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, it may well be the greatest failure in missions history.
The Accountability Question:
Mention the subject of sending missionary support to foreign nationals, and the first question that normally arises is how to hold them accountable. This is, of course, a valid question. However, it is not always an innocent one. As patriotic Americans, we must be careful not to ask this question on the basis of some subtle form of national pride which may lead us to believe that we are somehow superior to our national brethren in other countries. Like them, we too are nationals, and once American nationals are several thousand miles from home, holding them accountable to their supporting churches is not much different than holding foreign nationals accountable. Moreover, the ease of global communication and travel we enjoy today enables us to practice accountability more effectively than ever before.
Of course, assuming that US nationals are superior to other nationals is not biblical. This assumption must be based upon factors that have nothing to do with the real work of missions. Americans enjoy a higher standard of living than citizens of many other nations. However, economic superiority in no way equates to spiritual superiority. In fact, the reverse is often true. Scripture tells us in more than one place that economic superiority usually creates spiritual inferiority (Mt. 19:23-24; Ja. 2:6-7; 5:1-6). The work of missions is about making disciples of Jesus Christ, and poor people often display a greater willingness to follow Christ than rich people do (Ja. 2:5).
The US military is far superior to most other militaries, but Scripture reminds us that the warfare that matters to God is spiritual in nature (Eph. 6:12) and cannot be fought with material weapons (II Cor. 10:3-4). Any honest American believer would have to admit that America is largely losing the battles that matter most to God.
American believers who have had the opportunity to visit countries dominated by Buddhism, Hinduism, and even Islam often see a far greater hunger for spiritual truth than they now see in America. This hunger not only means that the citizens of those nations are more open to hearing the gospel, but it also means that when those citizens become believers, they are more eager to give their lives to preaching the gospel. God is raising up a spiritual army from among our national brethren in other lands to aggressively and faithfully take the gospel to the neediest areas of our world. American believers can either watch these foreign nationals spread the gospel, or we can help them spread the gospel.
Church planters normally have to receive financial support from churches other than the ones they plant. That being the case, Scripture nowhere requires a church planter to limit his support to churches within his own nation. In fact, Scripture actually contains examples to the contrary. The field is the world, and a missionary from one part of the world may draw financial support from a church in any other part of the world.
God has used American missionaries greatly, and they are still needed. In fact, every member of IPM’s Education Department is an American missionary. However, we must avoid the kind of prideful thinking which leads us to believe that American missionaries are more valuable to God than missionaries from other parts of the world. I love America, and I’m grateful to be a citizen of America, but the fact of the matter is that God did not use America as the primary nation to start the modern missions movement, and many current factors seem to indicate that He will not use America as the primary nation to close it.